DARPA’s OPEN Program Boosts Material Market Clarity

Enhancing National Security through Supply Chain Transparency

In a decisive move to fortify national security and supply chain resilience, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has unveiled its OPEN (Open Price Exploration for National Security) program. This initiative, developed in partnership with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), is poised to demystify the critical materials market, fostering a new era of transparency. It’s a strategic pivot towards ensuring the reliable availability of materials essential to the Department of Defense and technological innovation, addressing a long-standing challenge of market opacity that impacts readiness and imposes broad economic costs.

“OPEN aims to solve a difficult information asymmetry challenge that has existed for decades,” said Jonathan Doyle, program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office. “It’s a challenge that calls for expertise at the intersection of significant technical difficulty and global commodity insights – a challenge that DARPA is uniquely suited to take on.”

Crucial Materials in National Focus

Critical materials like nickel, lithium, and rare earth metals are not just industrial commodities; they are strategic assets underpinning national security and advanced technology sectors. The OPEN program’s mission to enhance price prediction and supply-demand forecasting is a game-changer for stakeholders across the board.

Transparent Pricing Structures

By analyzing fundamental cost data, OPEN aspires to develop transparent structural price predictions. This transparency is vital for critical materials producers, buyers, and investors, enabling informed decision-making in a traditionally opaque marketplace.

Forecasting with Finesse

Leveraging economic modeling, machine learning, and time series forecasting, the program’s goal is to refine the accuracy and precision of future supply and demand projections. This could signal a seismic shift in how commodity markets are approached, from reactive to strategic planning.

Collaborative Efforts for Security

The synergy between DARPA and USGS exemplifies a concerted effort to secure the supply chain of materials that are the lifeblood of defense operations and modern technology. The partnership brings together technical expertise and deep insights into global commodity markets.

A Call to Innovators

With the OPEN Proposers Day scheduled for November 13, 2023, DARPA is extending an invitation to potential proposers to join this transformative endeavor. The initiative represents a unique opportunity for innovators at the nexus of technology and market intelligence.

  • Program: DARPA OPEN (Open Price Exploration for National Security)
  • Partnership: DARPA, USGS
  • Objective: Increase transparency in critical materials pricing, supply, and demand forecasts
  • Technology: Economic modeling, machine learning, time series forecasting
  • Phases: 7-month base period with two option phases
  • Focus Areas: TA-1 (Estimate actual material input costs), TA-2 (Estimate supply and demand functions)
  • Solicitation Link: SAM.gov OPEN Program Details
  • Proposers Day: Nov. 13, 2023 – Registration Info


The OPEN program marks a pivotal stride towards resolving the opaque nature of critical material markets, a move that promises to bolster national defense and economic stability. By enabling a more reliable and transparent market, DARPA and USGS are not only advocating for immediate operational readiness but are also laying the groundwork for sustainable technological advancement. As this initiative unfolds, it could very well redefine the global commodities landscape, offering a beacon of predictability in an uncertain world.


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